Comparing Mental Health to “Real” Issues? Not Fair

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

“There’s been a tsunami, people have lost their homes, and there is so much suffering in the world besides. C’mon people. Get it together!”  Jennifer  was frustrated, and although she also was struggling with depression, she believed the stresses others in the Intensive Outpatient Program were facing could not compare to the “real” issues of 2011.

About a dozen persons struggling with severe depression, bipolar depression, and other disorders comprised this group. Several had attempted suicide, some more than once.  Jennifer did not know anyone’s level of pain or personal history.  With only her experience to use as a measuring rod, she scolded members to “get it together,”  adding to feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness. 

I disagree passionately with comparing pain between people, or against ours. The analogy I like to use is that of a stubbed toe and broken leg.  We know a broken bone hurts more intensely at first and for a longer period than a banged foot. It also requires more health care from professionals. Yet will we say the toe pain does not hurt? If we stub a toe,  we will certainly say ouch and limp for few minutes!

In the moment, the throbbing toe demands our attention. If only for a few seconds, we will be unable to function as usual. In the world of mental disorders, the intensity and duration of symptoms can vary. If dysfunction lasts for days or weeks or months, who are we to offhandedly dismiss another person’s experience?

Yes, the world is a collision of serious problems. Comparing trouble to trouble, we will find those who seem to have it worse. If  looking at mental illness from only one perspective however, we can fall into judgementalism and falsely accuse people who are doing their best of making too much of little.

Next time you or someone you know faces depression, anxiety, or any mental illness, remember the stubbed toe. Be kind to each person who struggles to cope.

Today’s Helpful Word

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*picture by LUSI on rgbstock.com

You Have Value! 6 Ways to Honor Yourself Without Being Jerk

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

What does honor look like?  

Most of us know it when we see it. Honor is courageous in harm’s way. It practices priorities despite temptations to settle for instant gratification.  Honor is honest when it is painful, and hesitates to make a promise because it will be, you know, honored.  The basic truism about honor is it values other people. 

Does that mean it is dishonorable to consider one’s own value?

We have all met braggarts who bellow and try to commandeer respect. Gossipers often want to make themselves look good by putting others down. Those behaviors are not honorable, but self-centered. Generally, people who engage in them are perceived as jerks.

What does it mean to honor yourself? 

  • Honor your boundaries. You cannot control what other people choose to do. However, refusing maltreatment is one way to honor yourself.
  • Get your basic needs met.  Developing a safe support system and using it will satisfy many emotional needs. Physical self-care too honors your body. 
  • Choose kind self-talk. Defending your value and speaking with respect are ways to be courteous to yourself. 
  • Treat yourself.  What nice, healthy gift can you offer to you? 
  • Praise yourself for a job well done. Admit when you make progress, but most of this is to be kept to yourself. Develop the character trait of humility.
  • Honoring ourselves includes honoring our values, because no one likes a phony, especially if that phony is in the mirror. 

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

A Father Beyond His Little Girl’s Dreams

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

A lonely girl dreams of the perfect father. She imagines that when this man looks at his daughter, he sees beautiful possibilities.

As he listens to her pour out her daily, hourly joys, his attention stays focused. When she cries, he holds her. He disciplines her to keep her safe, but never harms her body or heart.

This perfect father continues to see his daughter’s charm and purity despite battle  scars  and  wrinkles  time has worn into her features. He believes her a success and forgets past failures. He loves his baby girl to the very end.

The girl awakens from her dream to sigh. She knows no father like this. In her reality, a father is imperfect, one who struggles with human selfishness, needs and will. For her, hope  of  knowing  a father’s unfailing love is but fantasy.

Then one day, the longing, disappointed girl meets another  Father.

This Father speaks softly with patience. His encouraging words, strong and enduring, build her confidence. He promises to go beyond her fondest hopes of being understood, accepted and loved.

Standing near, he whispers, “Come to me” every moment she breathes. She slows to listen and finds her yearnings lessened, her worries eased. In their place is a learned security. Trust is in the one who will never leave.

Drawing her close,  this  Father  breathes  in  her every word as if this communion were  somehow  his only source of joy. He joins her in designing life goals, shares the fun, and heals exhaustion from typical days.

Needs and emotions of other persons rampage through her home and heart, and this Father gives her wisdom. He cultivates her motherhood by demonstrating how to nurture and sacrifice for her children. Tidal waves of the world’s temptations threaten to sweep her young away, but this Father helps her to hold on tight. Then, standing by her side as she releases her grip, he teaches her how to let  go.

This Father invests in his daughter. He encourages her to have a renewed mind, and to be     a woman of conviction and insight. He sets her face toward the world and says,“Go get ‘em tiger,” and makes it possible for her to believe she can. He lifts her up with hope, and asks her to live humbly before him. These are his good gifts. 

This Father is not fantasy like a prince in shining armor. There is no one else, no matter how sensitive or strong, no other father or romance can fill the cavernous need in a daughter’s heart. To be apart from him is to feel so very alone.

He is not of this earth. His name is Yahweh, Jehovah, and I Am. He is the Creator, and Almighty God.

Upon returning from chasing illusions, the girl sees him in the distance and searches his face for a sign. He smiles with welcoming eyes and engulfs her in his waiting arms.

“Come daughter,” he says. “I am Abba. You are home.”

Happy Father’s Day

when i am old...Today’s Helpful Word

John 1:12

“… to all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–“

 

*****COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

picture of father/daughter from CHARCOAL on rgbstock.com

Today’s blog is an excerpt from Always The Fight: A Living Testimony of What Only God Can Do

 

 

For Law Enforcement Prevention of Mass Shootings Begins at Home

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Abuse is not often a one-time occurrence. That is because abuse is always about power and control.  In the mind of an abuser, the victim must be kept in his or her place. Abuse escalates when the abuser’s sense of power and control seems threatened.

The National Coalition to Prevent Domestic Violence (NCADV) asserts that abusers may practice their crimes without censure because domestic violence is often handled inappropriately. The NCADV website mentions several reasons why a domestic abuser may find freedom to grow more abusive or broaden the scope of abuse:

  • Reinforcement of clergy and secular counselors of “saving” a couple’s relationship at all costs, rather than the goal of stopping the violence.
  • Lack of support to victims by police officers and law enforcement who may treat violence as a “domestic dispute,” instead of a crime where one person is physically attacking another person. Often, victims of abuse are arrested and charged by law enforcement even if they are only defending themselves against the batterer.
  • Dissuasion by police of the victim filing charges. Some dismiss or downplay the abuse, side with the abuser, or do not take the victims account of the abuse seriously.
  • Reluctance … to prosecute cases. Some [prosecutors]may convince the abuser to please to a lesser charge, thus further endangering victims. Additionally, judges rarely impose the maximum sentence upon convicted abusers. Probation or a fine is much more common.

When an abuser is not made accountable and suffers few consequences, the abusive behavior increases. Most of it remains in homes, silent and possibly deadly. However, a few take their need for power and control to the streets. 

Today, an article from NBC News speaks to the relationship between domestic violence and mass shootings. It is in some ways obvious, yet because most of us do not think like abusers, the idea is astounding. 

Turns out, most mass shooters have domestic violence backgrounds.  Domestic abuse is notoriously under reported, so it is likely the numbers are higher. 

Monica McLaughlin, deputy director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence said, “We also need law enforcement response that believes survivors, that responds to the calls for help” 

The article continues, “The Chicago Battered Women’s Network’s most recent Court Watch Report from 2013 lists dozens of cases in which protective orders were denied after abuse charges were dismissed, or inappropriate statements were made — such as when one judge told a woman to simply “learn how to get along” with her abusive partner ‘given that they have a child together.'”

Domestic abuse of all kinds must be taken seriously. Until those in authority learn this, we can expect more of the same.   

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 141:10

“Let the wicked fall into their own nets”

*********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*Understanding Why Victims Stay  http://ncadv.org/learn-more/what-is-domestic-violence/why-victims-stay

*Mass Shooters Tend to Have Past Domestic Violence Arrests   Mary Emily O’Hara – NBC News – Thursday, June 15, 2017  retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/what-mass-shooters-tend-have-common-domestic-violence-records-n772716

In Political Turmoil Love is a Moral Value

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

politics, heartsSo how did politics slip into a blog on mental health? Our values guide us and our politics. Even in political turmoil, love is a moral value. and we all know that without it we cannot be whole.

First, a definition of love

Love is action. It is caring enough about a person or nation to sacrifice for their wellbeing. When a war veteran says he or she loves America, it means something different than corrupt leader’s glib, “Gotta love America” as he or she rakes money into their greedy arms.

Love is superior to romance.  Romance is often only lust and warm fuzzy feelings. These are focused on one’s pleasure.  Romance matures when love is the overseer and leads to kindness, patience, acceptance, honesty, and consideration of each other’s feelings and needs. 

Love is a choice. In minor interactions as well as deeper connections, it is our decision whom to love.  We can treat waiters and cashiers as persons worthy of respect or as nonentities. It is up to us to forgive family members or retaliate. Applying effort to know someone is an option as is making superficial judgments. 

Politics and love

Valuing love will guide political opinions and votes. Of course I have political opinions but am much more concerned about how Jesus’ words, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”  are ignored in this world.

Plenty of self-love is evident from political leaders to the average citizen. For example, why does a populace vote on economics rather than moral character or skill? Why are innocent people in prison in the era of DNA testing? Why is there homelessness in this affluent country? 

Love is not voiceless and demands I stand up against injustice whenever possible. Nonetheless, while speaking out, my job as a follower of Jesus is to accept those who disagree and to refuse hate. Love tops politics every time.

Love and Learn

Respectful dialogue is vital. Truth on either side of an issue can withstand scrutiny. Hollering, arguing, and stubborn close-mindedness drive people further apart until no progress can occur. Learning from each other does not change the truth, it teaches us how to love each other as we love ourselves.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

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Comments are always welcome.  NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

 *picture by LUSI from rgbstock.com

 

Is Anxiety or Depression a Choice? It Depends…

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Is anxiety or depression a choice? It depends. We can purposely replay the past, or focus on all the negative what-ifs because we like doing so.  However, obsessive or racing thoughts about personal histories may occur because we do not have the tools to process them. 
Perhaps we find some reward in playing the victim.  Excessive destructive self-talk is more likely based in false core beliefs of which one may be unaware.
 
Fear of the future, rejection, or failure may not be resolved for some people by only thinking positive thoughts or shaking it off.  Peaceful options are more easily attained by those who experience nervousness or blue days once in awhile instead of anxiety or depression. 
 
While nearly everyone in existence is capable of throwing the occasional pity party,  those who fight to manage chronic anxiety and depression are practicing the opposite of self-pity and bitterness. Each day, people with these disorders function as best they can despite their brain telling them they cannot and should not. Management is a deliberate, purposeful decision to pursue honesty and healthy thinking. 
 
Time is wasted on judging how well a person is doing by what is seen on the outside. We do not know anyone else’s battles. If you believe you have chronic anxiety or depression, or are concerned for someone who might, seek professional help until you find what works.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 18:13
“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

 

 

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

Evidence Points to Real Hope in a World of Fake News

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

If you were an older teenager or adult in 2001, you likely remember newscasts using ticker tape banners at the bottom of your screen only occasionally. These would catch our immediate attention because they were reserved for more urgent updates.  Now they are meaningless except to fuel obsession.

Gone are the days when a TV journalist is named “Most Trusted.”  From talk shows for exploiting the worst of human nature, to roundtable talk shows where all opinions are welcome except those that other hosts do not like, televised conversation has become largely tabloid and empty of critical thought.

Social media has taken gossip, hearsay, and the mob mentality to new lows. One used to have to buy this junk, now we have to exert effort to steer away of the ugliness.

Meanwhile, fear mounts. World and national events, most announced in a made-you-look style,  have us wondering if safety exists. We see problems in our schools, churches, and homes and want to place blame. We await a solution to all this chaos.

Can we have some good news, please?

History and present daily facts prove that governments will not save us. Science will not come to the rescue. Tolerance will not abolish hate. Education will not change our course. Religion will not free us. Self-knowledge will not give peace. All these have their positive roles in the turning of the world, yet none are permanent. All are like shifting sand in a storm.

And the storm is here, isn’t it?

This is when biased people (some well-meaning and afraid) find audiences of eager and desperate followers leaning in to hear hope. These are cases of the blind leading the blind. Naturally, crooked people also seek and find the vulnerable when times seem frightening.

Fake news comes from deceivers and the deceived. Beautiful, influential, and seemingly good people can deliver falsehood on purpose or not. Outright lying for any number of excuses is a way of life for rich and poor. That is why two steps are important for understanding when hope is real.

  1. Live in complete honesty.
  2. Look at the long-term, historical, witnessed evidence

It may amaze some readers (it shocked me when I learned it) that when Jesus was born, and when he preached, died, and resurrected,  his life was followed by the  most vast collection of written evidence than any other human or story.  Over 5000 original manuscripts (or pieces of manuscript) exist to support this, some by eyewitnesses only decades after the incident(s) they describe.

Homer’s Iliad has the second most original manuscripts in existence, over one thousand, the earliest of which was not recorded until at least 100 years had passed.  Proof of Julius Caesar’s reign has fewer sources and no eyewitness accounts.  I could go on.

My point is not to argue proof. These facts might prompt you to consider learning more, and to ask questions that perhaps you have been taught to avoid.

Jesus is the only hope that has not moved or changed throughout history’s storms. (Yes, he is God, so existed before his human walk on earth). All his promises remain the same, and his guarantee of eternal life in heaven for those who accept him as Savior and Lord is valid.

In these scary times, I hold on to the Rock Jesus, who has promised to never let me go.

Today’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 54:10

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*world news picture by JAYANTA32;  cross picture  by WEEWILLYD – both  from rgbstock.com

 

Suicide: Wisdom from Sherlock Holmes

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

Sherlock, is the title of a long running movie and television series set in modern times.  The chief characters are Sir Conan Doyle’s beloved detective Sherlock Holmes and his cohort Dr. John Watson. 

In season 4, Sherlock and John discuss suicide. John uses the phrase, “Taking your own life.” 

Sherlock’s intriguing reply surprised me. “Taking your own life. What a strange expression. Taking it from whom? Once it’s gone, you’re not the one who will miss it.”

In 2011, when my majorly depressed brain was offering death as my only option, a therapist told me I had been on suicide watch for six months. Until she said so, I was unaware anyone was paying much attention.  This was the illness blocking my ability to see the obvious and grasp what so many others were saying. 

She told me repeatedly that taking my life would cause permanent harm to my sons. As a devoted mother,  it is unconscionable to purposely doom them to a lifetime of sorrow and unanswered questions. However, major depression exacerbated negative core beliefs until I was certain they would not care. 

Causes of suicide are not easy to pinpoint. However, the majority of them involve an underlying mental illness and/or substance use. When the brain is misfiring due to disease or substance interference, reason is often diluted.

Severe depression is a whirl of physical, emotional, spiritual and mental symptoms. Hopelessness, an overwhelming sense of worthlessness, losing sight of purpose, and other negative beliefs create a vacuum where only pain exists. When a psychologist told me my thoughts were irrational, I was offended. My suicide attempt seemed logical to me.

That is why, if you have chronic bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts  or know someone who does, it is important to write out and leave in sight what Sherlock said. Your life matters in ways you may not see. Taking your life will hurt other people. Even when you are filled with doubt, having his last comment hanging on your wall can be a deterrent:

“Your life is not your own.” 

Today’s Helpful Word

“Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.”

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*  from rgbstock.com

 

 

 

 

Tuscan Wings, Mascara, and an Embarrassing Lesson

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

Bertuccis’ pizza restaurant will never be the same for me. 

A local favorite in southeastern Pennsylvania, one could stop by for fire baked pizzas with a gathering of friends or grab a few Tuscan wings on the go. During my six years in the area, I did both.

One afternoon, a young host greeted me with slight hesitancy before he smiled and warmly took me to my table.  I thought, what a nice, shy young man.

He sat me in the back of the restaurant facing a wall. It seemed strange because smaller tables in the open central area were available.  His eye contact was intentional, not the obligatory kind, when he smiled and said,  “Have a good lunch, Ma’am.”

I thought, he is sincere! How nice!

Another young adult came by to take my order. I was texting, and apologized for not being ready. 

“It’s no problem,” he said.  However, it was the way he said it.  I thought, Bertuccis has hired a great crew.

He paid unusually careful attention to me.  After ordering Tuscan wings, a salad, and a box, he hung around an extra moment and asked twice if I needed anything, “anything at all?”

My bill was shy of ten dollars. Placing twenty in the folder he provided and expecting change, I took advantage of the wait to freshen up in the ladies room.  

There, I stared at the mirror, face reddening in embarrassment. Desperate ideas for saving my pride failed to present a viable escape. No option was left but to laugh!

A few minutes before arriving at the restaurant, life’s stresses had broken out into a brief flood of tears. In turn, mascara painted my cheeks in streams. An attempt at wiping tears away made it look as if I had black eyes! 

Immediately, the extra nice service, warm looks, and added, “anything at all?” made more sense. No wonder I’d been seated in a private area! This time, it was laughter making me cry.

Considering  I would have paid anyone ten dollars to get me out of there, sight unseen, the choice to not return to my table for change was an easy one.  Face washed and head down, the trip to the door seemed unending. Finally, I stepped outside having left a 110% tip. Good thing Bertuccis isn’t a five-star restaurant.

This story gently and humorously reminds me to not make assumptions based on superficial evidence. If Bertuccis employees guessed I was sad, they were right. If they feared I’d been punched in the eyes, they were incorrect. Of course, there is no way of knowing what they thought. 

For those who live with a mental disorder or illness,  addiction, and/or abuse, the danger of assumption is two-fold:

  1. We who are mind-reading and guessing do not learn anything.
  2. The one who is judged superficially is harmed by unmet actual needs (and gossip in many cases!) 

The solution is to ask questions. For our loved ones who struggle with mental illnesses or situations that confuse us, a simple  “Will you help me understand?” makes a positive difference.

Today’s Helpful Word

Genesis 16:13

[Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me…’  (Hagar had been abused and left to die with her son in the desert, but God never left her.)

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*wings picture by TOME213; sky by REFRI – both  from rgbstock.com

But He Doesn’t Raise His Voice: How to Know Verbal Abuse When You Hear It

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

It can be confusing trying to understand the definitive characteristics of verbal abuse. When does yelling in anger become abusive? Is emotional abuse the same thing? This excerpt from Berit “Brit” Brogaard, author of On Romantic Love, reveals some of it.

“A verbal abuser will define your reality, decide what you can or cannot do, and treat you as an (in-their-eyes) ugly part of themselves, a part that they have to undermine in order to keep up their own sense of self.”

Abuse is always about power and control. An abuser will follow a pattern whether that pattern covers an hour, day, months, or even years. I used to think of screaming, cussing, and insulting as verbal abuse. But what if the abuser does not raise his or her voice? Insults can be more subtle and without swear words.

Picture a woman smiling and clapping at her child’s school play. She greets other parents and thanks the teacher.  Once home, her words to her son or daughter are soft-spoken. “You should have practiced more. You never try hard,” or with a disappointed sigh, “I guess you did your best.”

This type of  insulting is not what I think most people mean when using the terms verbal assault or verbal beat-down.  In a way, what the mother is doing is scarier because of its subtlety. If this child should try to tell a trusted adult how mommy makes him or her feel, will the story be believed? More often than not, people tend to dismiss children unless evidence of abuse is obvious.

Meanwhile, the life lesson is clear and taken to heart. I am not good enough. I am incapable.  I am unlovable.  Schoolwork and relationships are negatively affected. Trust, love, and self-worth remain evasive. Behaviors such as seeking perfection in everything, or underachievment may result. The list goes on because humans are complicated.

Eric* has a favorite joke. His verbal abuse is rarely public.  With a smile he says to his wife, “You’re my californ I A.”  It sounds unusual and harmless unless you know what he means. “California is a big beach [bee-itch],” he first explained.  This is not the only way he repeatedly reminds his wife she is less-than and undeserving. 

She buys the rhetoric early in their marriage. Her full attention turns to pleasing Eric and trying to gain his approval. She ceases to know joy and a vibrant spirit of life outside of this longing. 

Both the mother and Eric are prone to ignore their family members’ achievements. Eric especially will respond with jealousy if his wife shares good news. In families, emotional abuse is the absence or irregularity of acceptance, love, appreciation, time, investment, and positive feelings for another person. It is neglectful or disinterested, manipulative, untruthful, and gives the abuser a temporary sense of power.

Emotional abuse does not have to come with words, whereas verbal abuse by definition does. Both reach the same ends that Brogaard wrote about.  The abuse will define your reality (who  I am, my perception of the world), and decide what you can or cannot do (I am afraid, I have to stay home, I cannot try anything without asking, etc.).

Brogaard added a piece of advice.

“There [are only two ways] to end verbal abuse. Call it to the abuser’s attention. If that doesn’t work, the only way out is to leave, as fast as you can.”

While true, this is not easy or possible in some cases. Where is a child to go? How are believers of lies supposed to understand they are abused? Some women are taught in certain forms of religion that they have to stay in their marriage, submissive, and supportive of their husbands no matter what. To defy this is to defy their understanding of God. 

Personally, I hurt for those who cannot escape. It took me decades.  If you know someone who is abused, or you suspect it, ask a professional how to proceed. On the Truth About Abuse  page of this website are many helpful call numbers and references applicable to various circumstances. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians 4:29 (from the “An Understandable Version”)

“Do not allow unwholesome [Note: The Greek word for “unwholesome” is “rotten, diseased”] language to come from your mouth, but only what is helpful for building up those who need it, so that you can impart favor [i.e., benefit] to those who listen [to you].”

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*not his real name

*picture from qualitystockphotos.com